Seven young people in recovery from cancer spent the last week taking on the strong winds and English Channel waves as they took part in the exhilarating 200-nautical mile Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust Round Britain 2017 Leg 10 sail from St Katherine’s Dock, London to Cowes on the Isle of Wight.
Jess Cunningham, 22 from Camberley, who first sailed with the Trust in 2014 after treatment for Hodgkins Lymphoma, was one of those taking part in the leg which sailed into the Trust’s southern base in Cowes. She said: “Round Britain 2017 surpassed my expectations. I got to helm through the Thames Barrier, I enjoyed coming into Eastbourne and seeing the sunset and the stars, we saw dolphins as we sailed past Beachy Head and it was amazing sailing across the Solent into Cowes during Cowes Week. We did so much more sailing than I expected, I learned even more new skills, I loved meeting new people and it built my confidence up more.”
The crew, which included young people from Somerset, Surrey, Nottingham and Derbyshire, tackled the elements around the South-East coast before enjoying the equally thrilling but much drier highlights of a unique behind-the-scenes visit to Land Rover BAR, the home of the British America’s Cup team in Portsmouth. The 1851 Trust, the official charity of the team, set up to harness the power of sport to engage young people in science, technology and sustainability, hosted the tour of the Tech Deck and Education Centre.
The group also met sailors from Vestas 11th Hour Racing Volvo Ocean Race team, who joined the 1851 Trust to deliver a workshop on sustainability, learning about the impact of plastic pollution and making their own pledges to say no to single-use plastic to help preserve our oceans and marine life.
Between May and September, over 100 young people who have all sailed with the Trust following treatment for cancer, are taking part in an extraordinary 2,400-mile sailing relay around Britain on the Trust’s 44ft Round Britain voyage yacht, Moonspray, to celebrate recovery, achievement and potential.
Up to five different young people are joining the crew for each leg, while three of the full-time crew have also been through treatment and had the Trust’s support over the years. Fay, 23 from Nottinghamshire, was on board for Leg 10 of the voyage and commented: “My Trust trip last year was the main reason I decided to go to university this year because my skipper gave me a lot of confidence and was really supportive at a time when I needed a boost. The Trust has helped me believe in myself a lot more.”
Moonspray was welcomed back to Cowes on Friday, where the crew took in the spectacular end of regatta Cowes Week fireworks and Red Arrows display, before leaving the boat on Saturday (5 August). The new crew for Leg 11 are now making their way west along the coast with a stopover in Dartmouth planned this weekend. Round Britain 2017 finishes back where it started at the Trust’s northern base in Largs, Scotland in September.
This year the Trust will work with almost 600 young people in recovery from cancer. But for every young person they currently support, there are nine they cannot. Yet.
Through the campaign #tell9people and by sharing the stories of the young people taking part, Round Britain 2017 aims to raise awareness of the Trust’s work both publicly and within the hospitals and medical support networks around the country.
You can support the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust’s campaign and follow Round Britain 2017 via the Trust’s social media channels and on the live voyage tracker at www.ellenmacarthurcancertrust.org.